Judy Rapfogel is the wife of disgraced former Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty CEO William E. Rapfogel. She is also the longtime chief of staff for the speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver. Her husband was indicted in September for allegedly stealing $5 million from the Met Council with the help of its hasidic-run insurance broker, Century Coverage Corporation, and kicking back some of that money to politicians friendly to the Met Council. And now evidence has surfaced that may link Judy Rapfogel to her husband's crimes.
Evidence Discovered That May Link Disgraced Jewish Charity Head’s Wife To Embezzlement-Kickback Scheme
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Judy Rapfogel, is the wife of disgraced former Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty CEO William E. Rapfogel and the longtime chief of staff for the speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver.
Her husband was indicted in September for allegedly stealing $5 million from the Met Council with the help of its hasidic-run insurance broker, Century Coverage Corporation, and kicking back some of that money to politicians friendly to the Met Council.
But William E. Rapfogel also kept at least $1 million of that money for himself. (Millions more allegedly went to co-conspirators.)
Century Coverage allegedly significantly overcharged for insurance on the Met Council’s many properties and then kicked back a large portion of that money to William E. Rapfogel. A smaller portion of that money was also contributed to politicians’ campaigns by Century Coverage’s owner, Joseph Ross, and his employees at the alleged direction of Rapfogel, who sometimes would deliver the bundled Century Coverage checks to the politicians himself, it is alleged.
Both William E. Rapfogel and his wife Judy are considered to be pillars of their Lower East Side Orthodox community – the same community, the same synagogue, that Silver belongs to. Indeed, the couple’s lavish apartment is in the same building as Silver’s and Silver and his wife have been close friends with the Rapfogels for decades – even though Silver claims he has not spoken to William Rapfogel since the day news of his firing from the Met Council became public in late August.
Silver’s spokespeople have repeatedly claimed that Judy Rapfogel had no knowledge of her husband’s alleged crimes or of the large amounts of cash he allegedly stashed in their two homes.
In 1997, several years after her husband’s alleged embezzlement from the Met Council began, Judy Rapfogel ran for the New York City Council with Silver’s backing.
Her campaign budget was reportedly $160,000.
But, the New York Times reports, a disproportionate amount of that money was spent on something that appears to make no sense – automobile insurance sold to the Rapfogel campaign at seemingly drastically inflated prices by Century Coverage Corporation, the same insurer now caught up in her husband’s scandal.
Judy Rapfogel’s campaign paid $8,008 to Century Coverage to insure “what appear to be two vehicles that were leased for $3,100,” the Times reported.
Those car insurance payments reportedly made up 6% of the campaign’s total spending – more than double what the actual car rental leases themselves cost.
Imagine your car lease payment is $350 per month and your monthly car insurance premium is $775. While the figures used in that example are not accurate for Judy Rapfogel’s campaign, the proportion essentially is.
In comparison, Judy Rapfogel’s 1997 campaign rented office space from the firefighter’s union. That four month rental cost Rapfogel a total of $1,400 – $350 per month – in a city where rent on studio apartments even in transitional neighborhoods could then top $1,000 per month.
A spokesman for Silver reportedly told the Times last week that Judy Rapfogel had no knowledge that her 1997 city council campaign had paid Century for car insurance.
“This was 16 years ago, and even then Judy’s focus was on asking people for their votes, not the office paperwork,” Silver spokesman Stu Loeser reportedly said.
The treasurer for that long ago campaign is reportedly William E. Rapfogel’s sister, Freda Fried. She reportedly did not return calls and emails from Times.
Judy Rapfogel has not yet been charged in the criminal case against her husband and until now, there has been no hard evidence to implicate her in the scandal.
Two people known co-conspirators have also not yet been charged.
Haredi Rabbi Dovid Cohen, who was the CEO of the Met Council immediately before Rapfogel, appears to have initiated the theft scheme with Joseph “Yossi” Ross, the owner of Century Coverage Corporation and a leader in the worldwide Breslov hasidic movement.
Cohen stayed on at the Met Council for two decades as special consultant after Rapfogel was hired to replace him. He was fired along with Rapfogel in late August, but unlike its treatment of Rapfogel, the Met Council did not make Cohen’s firing public. Cohen was also the CEO of Hatzolah until his alleged role in the scandal was made public by the Forward and FailedMessiah.com on September 25. Cohen resigned September 28.
Ross still heads Century Coverage, despite being implicated in a two decades-long scheme that stole more than $5 million from the Met Council alone.
It is thought that both Cohen and Ross are cooperating with prosecutors in the investigation against Rapfogel – and, allegedly, against the politicians to which he allegedly funneled a portion of the stolen money.
Century Coverage was reportedly Judy Rapfoel’s campaign’s fourth largest vendor, “behind two organizations that handled its political fliers and the deli that provided food for its events,” the Times reported.
It was also among the first to donate to Judy Rapfogel’s campaign, giving her $250.
Other New York City campaigns that have purchased car insurance generally purchased it directly from large insurance companies like Allstate or State Farm. Reportedly, no other New York City political campaigns appear to have purchased insurance from Century Coverage in all the years campaign records have been digitized.
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